World Bulletin/News Desk
The United States has allocated $40 million to assist relief agencies aiding victims of the Syrian crisis, the Department of State has said. “The United States is pursuing every avenue to get humanitarian relief to those affected by the violence in Syria and is engaged in focused diplomatic efforts to secure full and unfettered access for humanitarian organizations to reach those in need,” the Department said in a statement.
The U.S. assistance includes “food, clean water, basic health care, and medical and other emergency relief supplies.” The statement also praised the governments of Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, and Iraq for keeping their countries’ borders open for Syrian refugees.
The United Nations said weeks ago that more than 9000 people had been killed in Syria since the outbreak of a popular uprising against President Bashar al-Assad in March 2011. Syrian activists have reported hundreds of new deaths in the past few weeks, including those reported during a ceasefire that has been officially in place in Syria since mid-April.
Earlier this week, UN and Arab League envoy Kofi Annan who brokered a peace plan to end the 14-month conflict warned that the country was on the brink of a “full civil war” as violence continued despite the presence of UN-backed international monitors tasked with observing the truce.
On Thursday, at least 55 people, mostly civilians, were killed and some 370 injured in two powerful blasts that rocked a highway near the Syrian capital, Damascus, during morning peak hour.
Russian acting Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Thursday Moscow would not change its position on Syria despite pressure from outside.
“There are people who want to put pressure on us to change our position. We will not concede to this pressure,” he said. Russia and China have twice vetoed the UN Security Council resolutions over what they called a pro-rebel bias since the start of the Syrian uprising, but have given their full backing to Annan’s peace plan.